Deakin University

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Prior degree and academic performance in medical school: evidence for prioritising health students and moving away from a bio-medical science-focused entry stream

Version 2 2024-06-19, 15:59
Version 1 2023-02-10, 03:08
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-19, 15:59 authored by Kathryn Aston-MourneyKathryn Aston-Mourney, J McLeod, Leni RiveraLeni Rivera, Bryony McneillBryony Mcneill, Debbie BaldiDebbie Baldi
Abstract Background Given the importance of the selection process, many medical schools are reviewing their selection criteria. The traditional pathway for post-graduate medicine has been from science-based undergraduate degrees, however some programs are expanding their criteria. In this study we investigated academic success across all years and themes of the Deakin University medical degree, based on the type of degree undertaken prior to admission. We evaluated whether the traditional pathway of biomedical science into medicine should remain the undergraduate degree of choice, or whether other disciplines should be encouraged. Methods Data from 1159 students entering the degree from 2008 to 2016 was collected including undergraduate degree, grade point average (GPA), Graduate Medical Schools Admission Test (GAMSAT) score and academic outcomes during the 4 years of the degree. Z-scores were calculated for each assessment within each cohort and analysed using a one sample t-test to determine if they differed from the cohort average. Z-scores between groups were analysed by 1-way ANOVA with LSD post-hoc analysis correcting for multiple comparisons. Results The majority of students had Science (34.3%) or Biomedical Science (31.0%) backgrounds. 27.9% of students had a Health-related undergraduate degree with smaller numbers of students from Business (3.5%) and Humanities (3.4%) backgrounds. At entry, GPA and GAMSAT scores varied significantly with Biomedical Science and Science students having significantly higher scores than Health students. Health students consistently outperformed students from other disciplines in all themes while Biomedical Science students underperformed. Conclusions Our data suggest that a Health-related undergraduate degree results in the best performance throughout medical school, whereas a Biomedical Science background is associated with lower performance. These findings challenge the traditional Biomedical Science pathway into medicine and suggest that a health background might be more favourable when determining the selection criteria for graduate entry into medicine.



BMC Medical Education



Article number

ARTN 700









Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal